Pere Roca-Cusachs, PI of the project, explains in this article the aim of the Mechano·Control project which is understanding the mechanical control of the biological function in order to abrogate breast tumour progression.
The consortium addresses this challenge thanks to an interdisciplinary research community with the aim of understanding cancer biomechanics from the single molecule to the whole organ scale. Ultimately, it’s hoped that the project will lead to the development of breast cancer treatments based on the new discoveries.
“Cells change their behaviour when they are in a stiff place; they further stiffen the tissue by secreting more matrix. If you convince the cells that they’re not in a stiff place, then they will stop secreting this, and this may help restore the normal stiffness of the tissue”
“What happens if we change the composition of the extra-cellular matrix to look more like cancer? What changes?” asks Roca-Cusachs. “We are developing mimics of this matrix, where we can dynamically change their properties. We can make the matrix get stiffer or softer by applying different kinds of light.”
You can read the article here:
We want to thank the EU Research Magazine for the article (EU Research WIN20/P17.)
The Mechano·Control project videos have been featured at the “Future Tech week” and at the European Research and Innovation Days event. After submitting the project videos to the “Spotlight Video Contest” of the Future Tech Week, boht videos have been selected to be aired in the session ‘Voices from the Future: EIC Pathfinder projects, stories, people, visions’ held online on the 22th September.
Future Tech Week provides EIC Pathfinder FET projects with a platform from which to blast their exciting findings, results and future paths to innovation to a wide range of stakeholders. It is a platform to showcase all the achievements in fields aligning with the European Commission’s priorities, including Artificial Intelligence and information technology, health and biotech, culture and society, energy and environment, and nanotech and materials. This year’s edition is taking place between 21st – 25th September. Future Tech Week features creative contributions from across Europe and beyond with a focus on Future and Emerging Technologies (FET).
The sessions entitled “Voices from the future: Pathfinder stories, people, visions”, organized in the frame of the Future Tech Week, will showcase EIC Pathfinder results from research to their exploitation into the market, through the valuable Keynote speech from Nobel Laureate Professor Edvard I. Moser (GRIDMAP), interview to the EIC Programme Manager Iordanis Arzimanoglou, the Keynote speech by Prof. Jerzy Langer – EIC Pilot Advisory Board member. Several roundtables will discuss about EIC Pathfinder future paths in a wide range of technological trends. The project videos selected by the “Spotlight video contest” will be streamed after Edvard I. Moser Keynote speech.
This past 2019 has been a great success concerning the outreach activities carried out within the Mechano·Control project. More than 320 people attended talks, workshops, discussions… related to mechanobiology.
Each year IBEC organises several workshops on mechanobiology where students explore how cells exert forces and they measure them and also create a cell membrane model. This year three schools with 25 students each have participated in this programme. Also, once a year 24 students that participate in a larger programme called “Crazy about bioengineering” come to Pere Roca-Cusachs and Trepat’s lab to do hands-on sessions on how cells perceive the surrounding environment, mechanobiology and biochemical responses.
London participated at the 2019 Pint of Science with a talk on how forces are
key to unveiling how life functions with an audience of more than 50 people
from different ages and backgrounds.
three presentations throughout the year addressed to patients and general
public about their research line on breast cancer, where more than 130 attended
Last but not least, INM also organised two experimental activities at their laboratories reaching 40 students and also mentoring lab practice to 5 secondary school students.
Pere Roca-Cusachs, coordinator of the Mechano·Control project and PI at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia has been interviewed for the European Comission Digital Single Market news section.
Through the interview by Giordano Zambelli, Pere unfolds the aim of the project and it’s impact to society and also explains his experience working with FET.
Finding effective solutions to fight cancer is undoubtedly one of the main scientific challenges worldwide, whose success needs necessarily to build on innovative pathways of research. Mechano-Control aims to understand the physical forces that determine the spread of a wide range of diseases, with potentially vast impact on the development of new therapies.
The Mechano·Control project has launched a series of videos describing the aim of the project. In order to reach a broad audience and bring the reaserch closer to society and making it understandable, the first video explains through cartoons, the aim of the project and the research that is being carried out by the consortium members. The second video, shows the researchers behind the project. Mechano·Control is focused on the mechanical control of the biological function with the aim abrogate breast tumour progression.
The MECHANO·CONTROL consortium, led by several research institutions across Europe, is launching a Summer School that will be taking place between 17-20 of September 2019 at the Eco Resort in La Cerdanya. The aim of the summer school is to provide training on mechanobiology, and specifically its application to breast cancer. This school will include lectures as well as practical workshops in different techniques and disciplines, ranging from modelling to biomechanics to cancer biology.
There will be scientific sessions in the morning, mixing 6 keynote speakers with 18 short talks selected from abstract submissions by junior scientists attending the school. In the afternoon, there will be 2-3-hour practical workshops, given by scientists from the MECHANO·CONTROL consortium. The course will also include leisure activities.
The 6 confirmed speakers who will attend the summer school are:
Marija Plodinec (University Hospital Basel)
Andrew Ewald (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)
Peter Friedl (Radboud University Nijmegen)
Guillaume Salbreux (Francis Crick Institute)
Christina Scheel (Institute of Stem Cell Research, Helmholtz Center Munich)
Buzz Baum (Medical Research Council Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology at UCL)
Pere Roca Cusachs, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (chair)
Xavier Trepat, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (co-chair)
Marino Arroyo, Technical University of Catalonia-BarcelonaTech and Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (co-chair)
A research team led by the IBEC, in collaboration with the CMR [B], discovers a mechanism that generates binucleated cells.This mechanism has been identified during the regeneration of the heart of the zebrafish, and could be associated with the extraordinary regenerative power of this animal.
After an acute heart lesion, such as a myocardial infarction, the human heart is unable to regenerate. The adult cardiac cells cannot grow and divide to replace the damaged ones, and the lesion becomes irreversible. But this does not happen in all animals. A freshwater fish native to Southeast Asia, known as a zebrafish, can completely regenerate its heart even after 20% ventricular amputation.
This extraordinary regenerative capacity has attracted the attention of
researchers from all over the world, who see the range of possibilities that
would be opened up if this mechanism of cell regeneration could be applied in
In an article
published today in the Nature Materials journal, a team of researchers from the
Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) led by Xavier Trepat, in
collaboration with the Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMR [B]),
have discovered a surprising mechanism by which zebrafish heart cells move and
divide during regeneration.
focused on the epicardium, which is the layer of cells on the outer surface of
the heart. Although the epicardium cells represent only a small fraction
of the heart’s mass, they play a fundamental role in its regeneration. “The
epicardium is the origin of several of the heart’s cell types, and secretes
biochemical signals that tell the cells what they have to do at all times. It’s
a kind of regeneration ‘hub’”, states Angel Raya, ICREA Researcher and
director of CMRB.
After a heart
lesion, the epicardium cells begin to divide and move en masse to cover the
wound. Researchers have observed that, during this process, the cells become
binucleated: they duplicate the genetic material and separate it into two
nuclei, but they are not divided into two independent cells. “We were very
surprised to discover cells that, instead of having one nucleus, as is the case
in most tissues, they have two nuclei, and each of them contains a copy of the
cell’s DNA” says Trepat, ICREA researcher at IBEC and associate professor of
the University of Barcelona.
discovered that the mechanism by which cells become binucleated has a
biomechanical origin. Once DNA has already separated into two nuclei, most
animal cells form a contractile ring at its centre. As it contracts, this ring
divides the mother cell into two daughter cells. In the case of the heart cells
of the zebrafish, the study shows that the ring adheres to the fibres of its
environment so that it cannot tighten. The result is that the two daughter
cells cannot separate despite having correctly duplicated their DNA.
is a well-known phenomenon in cancer, because it is a cause of genetic
instability. In other words, cancer cells lose control of the proteins they
synthesise and behave pathologically. In the case of the heart of zebrafish,
the multinucleation is physiological and does not seem to cause any problem”,
states Marina Uroz, the article’s main author. The next step will be to study
the role of multinucleated cells during the regeneration of the heart and other
Dr. Trepat and Dr. Raya are part of CIBER-BBN (Biomedical Research Networking Centre in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine)
The application period opens today until the 8th May 2019, where you can submint an abstract if you are interested in giving a short talk during the summer school.
The application does not guarantee acceptance to the Summer School due to the limited number of participants, an email with the resolution of the applicaton process will be sent on June 15th 2019.
The summer school will be held in La Cerdanya at the Eco-Resort located in Prullans in the Catalan Pyrenees.
The participation fee is 300€ (taxes not included) and includes accomodation in shared double room (from 17th-20th September 2019), full-board, workshops and conferences, leisure activities and shuttle bus from Barcelona to the venue.
hosting two members from the Mechano·Control network. On the one hand, Dimitri
Kaurin, PhD student from Marino Arroyo group at Universitat Politècnica de
Catalunya (UPC) that will be staying at IBEC for at least one year and on the
other hand, Amy Beedle, postdoc from Sergi Garcia-Manyes at Kings College
Dimitri Kaurin started his stay at Pere Roca-Cusachs’ laboratory in December 2018 and it is planned to be for at least a year. One of the objectives of Dimitri’s stay is to work on a protocol to study cell-cell adhesion using a controlled system based on lipid bilayers of controlled viscosity. “Using AFM technique, we expect to access some information about cell-cell adhesion under force” says Dimitri. In the context of this research he will also visit Manuel Salmeron laboratory in Glasgow University this march to learn some techniques about functionalizing lipid bilayers with cadherins.
On the other hand, Amy Beedle arrived this past January to Pere Roca-Cusachs’ laboratory. In the Garcia-Manyes lab Amy was looking at how mechanical forces can trigger conformational changes in individual proteins. Here at IBEC, she wants to incorporate the results at the single molecule level with the cellular level, to try to understand how individual bonds and proteins can contribute to cellular mechanosensing. “My aim is to expand my expertise in single molecule force spectroscopy to a larger cellular context” adds Amy.
This is the first time that both UPC and KCL teams meet with IBEC to share skills and ideas within the project’s framework.
EBSA association grants this prize every two years. The last winner of the prize was Philipp Kukura from the University of Oxford in the UK in 2017. The prize recognises an investigator across Europe who has defended his thesis 12 years ago or less and awards him with 2000€ and a medal as well as be expected to contribute an article to the European Biophysics Journal. The decision of the winning researcher is made by the Executive Committee based on scientific excellence, leadership and creativity.
The European Biophysical Societies Association was formed in 1984 as a non-profit making organisation, with the objectives “to advance and disseminate knowledge of the principles, recent developments and applications of biophysics, and to foster the exchange of scientific information among European biophysicists and biophysicists in general”. It is composed of the Biophysical Societies in the European area and is managed by an Executive Committee. EBSA is associated with the international organizations International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Initiative for Science in Europe (ISE) and owns the European Biophysics Journal.